Don Wildman works out at private gym above Malibu’s Paradise Cove with a handful of men who do circuit training, more than three thousand repetitions of weight lifting and balancing and abdominal exercises. Its twenty multipart exercises are cycled through six times in a complicated sequence, but the circuit’s ground rules are simple: Once you start, you don’t stop until it’s done. There are no water breaks, no substituting easier moves when the going gets tough, and obviously no whining.
“We’re starting with thirty reps!”says Don Wildman, the Circuit’s master practitioner. Wildman is a world-class athlete in several sports. In recent years, he has competed in the Ironman Triathlon nine times, the three-thousand-mile Race Across America bike race, the Aspen downhill ski race, and the New York and L.A. marathons. In the sailing world, Wildman made history by winning all three of the Chicago Yacht Club’s famed Mackinac races in one season. He snowboards the Alaskan backcountry with Olympic downhill champion Tommy Moe. 10 years ago, he paddled through the entire chain of Hawaiian islands on a surfboard. Don Wildman is 83 years old.
That outing was proposed by Wildman’s friend and training partner Laird Hamilton to raise money for autism research. Hamilton, at forty-four a surfing legend who’s been called the Chuck Yeager of his sport, is famous for his off-the-charts training program.
“In case you’ve never tried it, thirty reps of anything is about fifteen more reps than your body would prefer to do. And because there’s no resting between exercises” Wildman explains.
Don is largely credited for building the $15 billion+ health club market through innovative celebrity based advertising. He is also a world class sailor, avid snow border, and surfer. Don’s passion in the fitness industry started early on as the founder of Bally’s Total Fitness. Eventually, selling his company created substantial net worth for himself and his key management team; allowing Don to retire at the age 61. Now 83, Don remains on the cutting edge of fitness. He is affectionately championed as the “Godfather of the Malibu Mob,” a group of self described “exercise fanatics” who workout, bike and paddle board together several hours everyday.